Flowplay is a Flash-based social network world that is aimed at kids. Within this world they have wrapped 100s of established casual games. Players interact with each other in the 3D-ish world and their performance in the games provides them with virtual currency & goods. They were one of the 40 companies on the main stage at Techcrunch40 last week.
Flowplay has licensed over a 100 casual games so that they can focus on the larger world and game. As you play the casual games you gain points in the Flowplay world that can be used to buy virtual clothes and other goods. These can be given to friends as gifts. During game play you are able to chat with friends and they can play the same game as you (though not the same instance).
The characters and their movement look really good – as though they were a downloaded product. The Flowplay team have created a vector-graphics system with Flash. They use XML to instructions their creations to move. It allows for them to script any part of the body, in any “clothing” to move fluidily.
Though a lot of the game thrives on virtual goods there is no way for players to make their own. The virtual goods system is too complicated for mortals. Currently Flowplay has in house designers trying to build out the world’s inventory. There will be an API for game developers in the future.
The team’s core is three veterans of the gaming industry; they all have successful start-ups under their belts. They are still figuring out their revenue model, but it is most likely going to free to start and a set monthly price for premium. Premium will (probably) allow you to collect more virtual goods, and have an abode.
Having a virtual world filled with casual games is a smart one. People get to play their favorite quick-bite game on their own, but there is community to pull them back. However, they are not the only ones to have it. Three Rings launched the successful Puzzles Pirates, a sea-faring world where people compete via casual games, in 2003. Flowplay is the first that I am aware of that is creating this type of world for kids. They also have the advantage of licensing already-successful casual games.